Highlights: Strategic Expense Reduction and Impacting Cost Recovery

By Rob Mattern

I was pleased to lead a Large Firm Leadership luncheon session, “Strategic Expense Reduction and Impacting your Cost Recovery 2017+,” recently in Orlando, as well as held productive meetings discussing the results of the 2016 Mattern & Associates Cost Recovery Survey with several participants. These were invigorating discussions regarding cost recovery in 2017, strategic expense reduction—and firms’ overall financial strategies.

Here are some of the highlights of those discussions:

  • Legal research. Legal research trends, updates regarding vendors, as well as current and future recovery opportunities in this area are always a topic of discussion with firms. Many firms are struggling to consolidate services to a single vendor to lower costs—this is due, primarily, to the degradation of the recovery now and into the foreseeable future. If your firm is not successfully recovering legal research costs currently, attempting to implement this aspect of recovery now is a losing battle, not because clients won’t pay, but because the internal aspects of your operation won’t bill them.
  • Prints and scans. Firms are still on the fence about recovering the costs of prints and scans. If your firm is not one of the 50% recovering costs for prints and scans, and you are still struggling with this issue or have given up on it completely, you‘ll be facing a tough decision in the next few years on the cost recovery front. It’s a print/scan world and firms’ copy volume will not be sufficient to carry the cost of your cost recovery system.
  • Lit support/eDiscovery. Lit support costs and recoveries are the next big area of concern for many firms. The days of firms not billing for hosting fees and other in-house litigation support and eDiscovery costs are coming to an end. The rising cost of these charges and the risk exposure to hosting this data in-house are increasing. Firms will be forced to develop an internal billing model the attorneys will be comfortable billing, or the firms will be forced to outsource these costs to employ a hard cost billing model.

The Mattern & Associates Cost Recovery Survey is, year-over-year, lauded by industry leaders as the most comprehensive snapshot of cost recovery practices in the industry. The Survey has tracked recovery data since 2004 in traditional areas, including copy, print, scan, litigation support, and eDiscovery; 2016 was the first year the Survey tracked back and middle office function trends. Read more about the results in American Lawyer, here.

Request access to the 2016 Cost Recovery Survey overview